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  • Ann Volkwein

Testing Solyanka


This recipe was embedded in an author’s cascading memories of her time spent in Siberia and the vibrant artist that had crafted the stew in her tiny kitchen, alongside shot after shot of vodka and mutual confessions of heart and life struggles. Thus, I’d tucked it away thinking it was Russian when I first scanned the essay a few weeks ago. It’s a dish made for clearing the refrigerator of leftovers, chock full of odds and ends, a cacophony of savory and sour that had given me pause, to be honest: Kielbasa, salami, sirloin, bacon, ham, tomato, onion, celery, carrot, cabbage, paprika, allspice berries, khmeli sumeli, capers and... chopped dill pickles. The crowning glory is a garnish of lemon, fresh dill, parsley, scallions, sour cream and black or green gordal olives.


The pot percolated for four hours last night, filling the house with what are actually, upon a closer read, Ukrainian culinary aromas. The result, a melded, practical use of flotsam, perhaps, but one that honors a poignant exuberance for intensified flavors of home. 🇺🇦